PHARMACY

NCPA makes recommendations for the Affordable Health Choices Act

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An organization representing the country’s independent pharmacies has sent a list of recommendations for healthcare reform to the chairman of the Senate’s healthcare committee.

The National Community Pharmacists Association announced Tuesday that its EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts had sent a letter with five specific recommendations for the Affordable Health Choices Act to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The recommendations address grants establishing community health teams supporting a medical home model, grants for medication management services to treat chronic disease, requirements for pharmacies to provide health insurance, pharmacy exemption for durable medical equipment accreditation and features of the public health plan option.

Roberts wrote that the NCPA supports the requirement that community health teams provide patients with access to pharmacist-delivered medication management therapies in the medical home model provision.

“NCPA believes that pharmacists’ services should be an integral part of a patient’s medical home because prescription medications are the primary medical intervention used to improve health and quality of life,” Roberts wrote.

The letter expressed support for the law’s proposed establishment of a grant program for medication therapy management and exemptions for pharmacies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ durable medical equipment accreditation requirements, which they must fulfill in order to sell diabetes-testing supplies. On the other hand, it asked the committee to consider that small businesses with highly trained professionals, such as pharmacies, have higher-than-average salaries as it decided on an annual salary phase out for tax incentives to provide health insurance. It also emphasized its preference that the drug benefit component of any public plan be administered by a pharmacy benefits administrator rather than a pharmacy benefits manager.

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Study finds sodium oxybate might significantly improve pain, core symptoms of fibromyalgia

BY Anna Mcgrath

PALO ALTO, Calif. Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ sodium oxybate showed statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in pain and the core symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, according to phase 3 data.

Most patients with fibromyalgia suffer from widespread chronic pain, but the vast majority of patients also are affected by a broader spectrum of symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction and impaired physical function.

“The data showed that sodium oxybate improves the key symptoms of fibromyalgia: pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances,” said Todd Swick, one of the study’s investigators, medical director of the Houston Sleep Center and assistant clinical professor of neurology at the University of Texas – Houston School of Medicine. “Millions of people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and there is a continuing unmet need for therapies that address the constellation of symptoms that can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life.”

The 14-week study included 548 patients with fibromyalgia and was presented last week at the 2009 Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Seattle.

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Report: Obama to sign tobacco legislaton

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama has said he will quickly sign a bill that passed in the House Friday that would impose tough new regulations on tobacco, according to published reports.

The bill would place regulation of tobacco products under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, while also banning such products as cigarettes flavored with cloves and strawberry, and banning cigarette makers from advertising their products with such labels as “light” and “mild.”

More than 400,000 Americans die of smoking-related illnesses every year, and more than 35 million live with chronic lung disease, according to the American Lung Association.

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